Native Permactulure

Inspired by the recent Environmental Studies on the Piedmont trip, as well as my recent in class presentation on permaculture I have been thinking a lot about Native Americans, our environment’s history, and sustainable permaculture.

As thanksgiving comes near, more thought goes into Native Americans. However, this holiday does not coincide with any of their traditions at all. The typical thanksgiving dinner corresponds with 44 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, not to mention piles of pollution created from factory farming. This certainly goes against the Iroquois principle of seven generation sustainability; a concept urging the current generation to live sustainably and work for the benefit of the generation seventh into the future.

Native Americans domesticated many staple food which are eaten around the world today. These include: corn, wild rice, potatoes, yams, peanuts, squash, pumpkins, and numerous species of beans. All of these are good options to consider in making a sustainable and healthy thanksgiving meal; making it a great time to help support local farms. Thanksgiving is also a great time to start composting; a lot of scraps are bound to be leftover.

It is unarguable that our environment, in America, has changed drastically for the worse since the mayflower arrived in 1620. These maps show the deforestation that has occurred since then:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”. This Chinese proverb is a very inspiring message for us. We each have our trees we want to plant, both literally and figuratively. A great motto for our involvement in the future of sustainability. By checking out http://www.globalforestwatch.org/map/ you can see that much of the deforested area above has gained tree cover over the past decade.

Many people, including Native Americans, have developed ingenious ways to sustainably take care of the land. These techniques are defined as permaculture. As pointed out in http://www.iiirm.org/publications/Articles%20Reports%20Papers/Environmental%20Protection/SD-Cornell-2.PDF , “We are conditioned to take infrastructure for granted in our everyday lives until something goes amiss”. With all the light shed on climate change and sustainability nowadays, the flaws in man-made infrastructure are most visible, and open to the most change. It is the perfect time to push new and old permaculture designs into our society and the environment.

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5 comments

  1. mackenziearl · December 1, 2015

    I love this post because it not only presents the environmental consequences associated with human exploration and development, but also the social and cultural reactions to environmental change. The natural-based philosophy of Native Americans is often adopted to support conservation but is is even more valuable here, where it is used to illustrate sustainability. A similar attitude within Doism emphasizes the importance of sustainable planning (which always looks to benefit future generations rather than the current one). I appreciate this post because it links the seemingly conflicting Native American, Chinese, and Modern American conceptions of the environment and the importance of its long-term preservation.

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  2. hwichaz · December 1, 2015

    This was a very interesting post. I enjoyed it and it brought a new perspective of Native Americans to me. I didn’t know they practiced what is now known to day as sustainability. I also like the use of the pictures that shows the deforestation of the United States. It shows how much destruction the United States did to the environment around them. Overall a very good post.

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  3. garrettfojtik · December 1, 2015

    I love this post Bryan! It is so interesting to highlight the contradictions that the Thanksgiving holiday represents. I definitely agree that we should look to Native American cultures for inspiration on how to lead our lives in a more sustainable fashion today. Especially during a time of commercialism and excess, it is important to remember the environmental consequences of our actions. I am always inspired by Native American appreciation of and respect for the environment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lessthan3emily · December 2, 2015

    The Iroquois would definitely be ashamed of us.. But I hope one day I can have my own Thanksgiving only with seasonal items that were locally/ sustainably grown in my area, going back to a more traditional Thanksgiving! I composted my food scraps from Thanksgiving this year (woop woop!).

    Btw, when you said ‘yams’ that only reminded me of when that bee was trying to steal my yams at Southside once, good times with Bry 🙂

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  5. andrewwingfield · December 5, 2015

    Well, Bryan, you sure sparked a lot of comments with this post! That’s a testament to the great connections you made. I’m excited to see that your peer teaching on permaculture ended up inspiring you to further study and learning. I also really appreciate the way you connected this post to Thanksgiving.

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